Today’s Daily Cup of Joe continues a series working through the Hurricanes players who will become unrestricted free agents this off-season.
Today’s edition looks at relative newcomers Jani Hakanpaa and Cedric Paquette.
Hakanpaa was acquired in a more or less one for one trade for Haydn Fleury. The aim was to to add a right shot for the third pairing and also more of a physical presence to make the Hurricanes a bit tougher to play against. Hakanpaa fit the bill as a safe and steady third pairing defenseman and also consistently banged bodies. In that regard, he met the goal of the trade. But I think the limitation with Hakanpaa is that he is as advertised as a stay-home third pairing defensemen. He had trouble at times in the playoffs when caught on the ice against higher-end lines and could at times be a bit overmatched trying to defend speed off the rush. As such, I do not view him as the type of third pairing defenseman who is well-suited to step into the top 4 for stretches as an injury replacement.
But as a third pairing defenseman at an appropriate third pairing defenseman price, I think it makes sense to re-sign Hakanpaa for a depth role. His 2020-21 salary was only $750,000, so there is room to offer him a modest raise and still have a salary that matches his slot and limited upside.
In a move that was probably as much about parting ways with Ryan Dzingel, Paquette was added to bring a bit more sand paper to the roster and possibly center the fourth line. The fourth line center slot mostly went to Steven Lorentz down the stretch which left Paquette as a bit of filler in the lineup. When in the lineup, he brought physical play as advertised but never really carved out a role where he was a consistent difference-maker and played a limited role in the playoffs. The Hurricanes could benefit from having a few more players who are difficult to play against, but my expectation is that the team will look to use this slot to try to add similar from outside the current roster with a bit more production potential.
Where I land
If he can be re-signed for $800,000 – $900,000 per year, I think Jani Hakanpaa fits as an inexpensive depth defenseman. I would expect the Hurricanes to pursue this option.
On the other hand, I would be surprised to see Cedric Paquette re-signed. As noted above, he never really carved out a role and is yet another fourth line type player whose most recent salary ($1,650,000) is a little high for that role. I would expect Paquette’s slot to be one that the team uses to try to upgrade the forward group.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What are your thoughts on Jani Hakanpaa? Would you re-sign him? If so, what role do you see him playing on the 2021-22 team?
2) What are your thoughts on Cedric Paquette? Would you re-sign him? If so, what role do you see him playing on the 2021-22 team?